September 2006
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The SSQQ Newsletter
Written and Edited by Rick Archer
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This is the September 2006 issue of the SSQQ Newsletter written by Rick Archer.




On Sunday, August 27, 136 wild and crazy SSQQ dancers will climb aboard the Rhapsody and completely lose control for a week. Please go easy on us when we return. We will be too weak to defend ourselves.



As I reported last month, starting in January 2007, Dakota Wilhelm will begin teaching an Advanced Ballroom class known as "ACCELERATED BALLROOM". This class will be open to anyone who demonstrates proficiency in the six major Ballroom dances (Swing, Foxtrot, Waltz, Rumba, Tango, Cha Cha).

In preparation for the start of this program, in September and throughout the Fall, we will begin teaching Intermediate and Advanced Ballroom classes. Slowly but surely, the old system of offering Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced sections of one dance at a time will be phased out.

I proposed that everyone take a good look at Ballroom Dancing. After all, Ballroom Dance is where it all began. Western, Salsa, and Swing are all offshoots of Ballroom Dancing.

What is unique about Ballroom Dancing is the emphasis on Romance. The music is sometimes haunting, sometimes sexy, and sometimes beautiful. The appeal of Ballroom Dancing is that there is always a man and woman wrapped in each other's arms expressing that music in extraordinarily graceful ways through the individual dances.

Many SSQQ students are reaching the same stage of life as me - a time when words like "Romance", "Sophistication", "Style", and "Beauty" begin to acquire an increased appreciation. I have already discovered that Ballroom Dancing embraces each of these words and allows people to express them through dance.

I would be deeply grateful if all of you would read my article on Ballroom Dancing here at SSQQ. I think it is time to take Ballroom Dancing to the next level here at SSQQ. By the way, this article includes an unusual story about my first-ever Ballroom Dance class. You may be curious to read how the future owner of the largest dance studio in the country was totally humiliated in his very night of Real World Ballroom Dancing. Good story.



And now for the bad news - Yes, tuition is rising in January. Due to increased costs in our Common Area Maintenance fees, our rent has risen over a thousand dollars a month in just two years! I protested the most recent surcharge and received a letter from their attorney telling me to pay up or else.

I suppose I could contest the costs in court, but based on previous experience, I find the only ones who win are the lawyers. So I threw in the towel and paid the increases.

I wrote a story about the CAM dispute to explain the reasons behind the rent increase.

I included the incident where a Doberman almost bit Bryan Spivey. All in all, this story will explain why I often come to the studio with a frown on my face.



There has been another towing incident involving 4900 Bissonnet.

Be careful not to park there. They WILL tow your car. I know two people who have had their cars towed and I believe there have been others as well.

Mike and Gina Pack are the people who expect you to respect their property.

-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 8:52 AM
Subject: Parking

 To Rick Archer,

I am writing to let you know that someone punched a window in our building at 4900 Bissonnet.  Our parking lot is getting torn up and littered.  Please tell your students that not to park in our parking lot.  This is private property and towing signs will be up soon. 

I am sure that you understand we have been very patient and accomodating for a long time, with no compensation.  Now it is costing us money.

Thanks for your attention to this matter.

Mike Pack

Gina Cagna-Pack
713 667-2857

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer []
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 10:24 AM
Subject: RE: Parking

First of all, I am very sorry this happened to you.  I know nothing of the circumstances, but you have every right to be upset.

I am unsure what evidence points to a member of my studio as the perpetrator, but if you have any evidence, please share it with me and I will take appropriate action.

I wish to be a good neighbor and I will of course print your email in my upcoming newsletter.

That said, I have very little control over where my customers park.  Typically the people who read my Newsletter are very conscientious about respecting the rights of others. However not everyone reads the Newsletter.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Wednesday, April 05, 2006 12:40 PM
Subject: letter to editor Parking letter to editor Parking 4900 bissonnet towing

 Thanks, that is all that ask.

Gina Cagna-Pack
New Home Mortgage Corp
4900 Bissonnet #201
Bellaire, TX 77401



 -----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer []
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 10:06 AM
Subject: towing cars on wednesday, april 20 2006

Gina Cagna-Pack
New Home Mortgage Corp
4900 Bissonnet #201
Bellaire, TX 77401

Ms Cagna-Pack,

By towing at least 2 cars - possibly more (one was George Parker) - from your parking lot last night at 4900 Bissonnet, you have committed one of the cruelest, most bitter actions imaginable against innocent people.

These people had no idea what they had done wrong. They saw an empty parking lot with all businesses closed. Not one person noticed your brand new towing sign. They were completely blind-sided.

While I am sure you had the 'right' to do what you did, you were morally wrong. A simple warning note tacked to the ssqq wall or slipped under the door would have been sufficient. We would have warned everyone and whatever your problem is would have been solved.

Instead you forced people to drive all the way to Beltway 8 and shell out $120 in the middle of the night because you felt some irrational need to lash out. These people never meant you any harm. Their needless suffering is now on your conscience.

I will print this letter in my Newsletter. Ten thousand people will be informed of your hostile business practices. A permanent record of your action will remain on my web site. From this point on, any simple Google search on the name of your company will reveal to the world how you do business.


-----Original Message-----
From: []
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 10:32 AM
Subject: Re: towing cars on wednesday, april 20 2006

Rick,  Did you forget that I sent you an email about this? That was my notice.  Maybe you forgot to tell your clients. The cruelty is a disregard for other people's property, which is also unlawful. 


Gina Pack
GCP Investments
4900 Bissonnet, Bellaire, TX

-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer []
Sent: Thursday, April 20, 2006 10:51 AM
Subject: RE: towing cars on wednesday, april 20 2006

You have committed a cowardly act. I did not order the cars towed. You did.


-----Original Message-----
From: Rick Archer []
Sent: Tuesday, August 15, 2006 1:32 PM
Subject: towing cars on monday, august 15 2006

Last night the car of Carole Menefee was towed from your premises. I have put a sign on my front door, I have published a warning in my newsletter and on my web site, but I cannot possibly know whether each of my customers is aware of your towing policy.

Sure enough, last night another one of my students was caught unaware. Ms. Menefee was totally blind-sided. She never saw your sign or the sign on the front of our door.

As a result, Ms. Menefee had to call her niece at 9:30 at night to come get her. Since her purse was in the car, she had no way of obtaining the necessary $150 cash or whatever the cost is these days.

Instead, she had to arrange a ride to go pick her car at 8 am the next day on the corner of I-45 and Scott Street.

With apologies to Ms. Menefee, she truly looked sick to her stomach with worry.

Is this the really the punishment you wish to inflict on people who have no idea they have trespassed upon your premises?

Ms. Menefee works at Baylor College of Medicine. She is not a doctor and she is not wealthy, but she is trying to help people like you and I conquer disease. I know her well. She is a kind and gentle woman who appears to wish no one… certainly not you… any harm.

Would not a simple warning be a more merciful policy?

(Editor's Note: There has been no reply)



Good news: my friend Jeff Anderson has received his long-awaited heart transplant. Our prayers are with him. (Please visit the web site to read the entire story).

-----Original Message-----
From: Anderson, Jeff H.
Sent: Sunday, August 13, 2006 12:53 PM
Subject: New Address

Well it's official now. I now live in a nice apartment on the ground floor that's very close to work, the hospital and the people who will be able to help me during my long recovery after the transplant.

No new news on the transplant front. I had an appointment with my Dr. last week and I told him I was feeling worse and his answer was basically, "Well Duh.. there's a reason we have you on the transplant list." He then went on that my testing results aren't showing anything alarming but if I feel too much worse we should definitely schedule a hospitalization for another milrinone treatment. It's pretty much up to me. That will definitely make me feel better for a few months but it always carries the risk of becoming dependent upon it while in the hospital. Should that occur, I couldn't leave the hospital until transplant (which still could be a ways off)

Jeff Anderson

-----Original Message-----
From: Lisa Ramey []
Sent: Tuesday, August 22, 2006 11:24 PM
To: Lisa Ramey
Subject: Jeff Update

All - Many of you I have not been able to contact directly - but I wanted to let you know that Jeff had his heart transplant Monday night 8/21. The surgery took 4 hours and was a great success. He woke up about three hours later and they were able to take the breathing tube out about thirty minutes later. This morning he was sitting up in bed and eating breakfast and looked wonderful. He is going fantastic. They started him on the steroid this morning and gave him the immune suppressant drug this evening. He is still in ICU and visiting times are extremely limited. He should be moved to a room tomorrow. I do not know the visitation rules as of yet.

If you plan to visit please keep in mind that his immune system is being suppressed. Before you walk in please use the Purell that is outside the room and if you are ill, please do not visit until you are well.

I will send updates as I can. Thank you all for all of your prayers and support. I know it means a lot to Jeff.

Thanks, Lisa


-----Original Message-----
From: Lisa Ramey []
Sent: Thursday, August 24, 2006 7:22 AM
To: Lisa Ramey
Subject: 2nd Jeff Update

Hi everyone - Thank you all for your wonderful words and good wishes. I have printed out all of your replies and will take them to Jeff. I know it will make him feel good to know that so many people are thinking about him.

He was moved to a regular room yesterday afternoon and would have actually been moved on Tuesday night had there been a room available. He continues to do well, although last night he was having a little bit of difficulty. He had a slight fever of 100.3 and this morning he told me he thinks he definitely has an infection. He is at Methodist Hospital, Dunn Tower, Room 423. It's probably best for him to have minimal visitors while he is fighting this infection and on the highest dosage of immunosuppressant drugs. Many people have asked about sending something, he cannot have any flowers or potted plants. Something in the soil and/or standing water of cut flowers is very harmful to him. He can have cookies, balloons or stuffed animals. If you would like to send a card you can send it to our new home address

5510 S. Rice Ave.
Houston, TX 77081

I'll continue to send out updates as I can.

Thanks, Lisa

(Editor's Note: Jeff Anderson is a great guy.  Keep him in your thoughts and wish him well.  This is one person who is definitely a credit to this planet!)

AND THE MOST UNBELIEVABLE NEWS OF ALL - No Same Sex Dancing Complaints this month!

In fact, no complaints at all! Amazing, but true!

Hope you enjoy the rest of the Newsletter.


September 23 - September 30

We currently have 36 people signed for this trip and continue to get nibbles from others who are interested. Marla says there is space available for our New England Trip. This "Autumn Leaves are Falling" trip leaves out of Boston on September 23. This is your opportunity to take a marvelous trip with the SSQQ Group to an area steeped in history and painted with beauty.

The ship's route hugs the rugged New England coastline and moves into Canada as well. This will give everyone a spectacular daily look at some of the prettiest scenery in America.

Obviously this trip is expensive, but it is well worth it for you Texans who have never visited this beautiful part of the country.

This is an especially active trip with six ports in six days. According to Cher Longoria who has scouted the trip extensively, there are many excursions to choose from, plenty of places to visit and lots of things to see. Kayaking, climbing, hiking, biking… you name it… this will be an extraordinary trip.

The ship is almost sold out, but there is still space available if you want to go. Email or phone Marla during the day at 713-862-4428.

Remember - if you miss the first week of class, you can always start in the second week. The Second Week Review will catch you up.

Special classes for September include:

1. BEGINNING SWING/JITTERBUG returns to Sundays at 4:30 pm with Jack Benard. As we announced last month, we are upgrading our Ballroom Dance program. Of the six major Ballroom Dances we concentrate on, Swing is by far the most popular and practical dance of them all. Consequently we teach Swing separate from the other 5 Ballroom Dances but at the same time - Sundays at 7 pm. At the request of several Ballroom students, Jack will begin a three-month Swing program on Sundays at 4:30. This way a student can take Swing on Sundays at 4:30, then stay for their Ballroom class at 7 pm.

2. Scott and Cher will be teaching Ghost Town 4 this month on Sundays at 4:30 pm. GT 4 includes patterns such as Clever patterns in this Ghost Town: Sweethearts of the Rodeo, Revenge of the Dance Teaches plus I Wanna Be a Cowboy's Sweetheart.

I would like to apologize to those of you who thoroughly enjoyed Scott's Death Valley class on Sundays. As you could probably figure out for yourself, we traded the room spot for the Swing and Jitterbug class. The thinking behind this move is that with 12 Ghost Town levels, why did we need with another layer of Advanced Western classes?

What we will do instead is create a "Double Ghost Town" program starting in October. Scott will teach both the Sunday class and the Friday class. Not only do you get a chance for a review, I am certain Scott can add one really tough pattern in there as well. More about this idea next month.

3. At 7 pm, Dakota starts his FOUR-MONTH TANGO class with BEGINNING TANGO. This class will advance one level each month through December. Please read more about this class a little further below.

4. BEGINNING BALLROOM on Sundays at 7 will cover FOXTROT, WALTZ, AND RUMBA this month. Jill Banta will be the teacher.

5. The first official INTERMEDIATE BALLROOM class makes its debut on Sundays in September. Taught by Jack Benard, this course will cover Intermediate Tango and Cha Cha patterns. Look for this class to be promoted to the Advanced level in October.

6. Marla will teach the final SLOW DANCE AND ROMANCE class for a long time on Sundays at 7. This class will then be retired to make way for the Advanced Ballroom class coming in October. If you have ever wanted to master the fine art of "Slow Dancing", this is exactly the class you want.

There are special occasions like the First Dance at a wedding, a fancy New Years Eve party, a romantic standard at the Captain's Reception on a cruise, or a sultry torch song at a nightclub where the ability to Slow Dance would sure come in handy. As a word to the wise, there are certain moments in life when the ability to dance gracefully to romantic music becomes mighty important.

This is the perfect chance to learn more about the Lost Art of Formal Dancing. It is also the perfect class to take if you need to prepare for the First Dance at your wedding.

(By the way, Marla teaches an average of 5 private lessons a week to couples who need to learn how to Slow Dance, Foxtrot, or Waltz at their Wedding Reception . If you know someone who needs to prepare for this important moment, read Marla's story about her Wedding Dance experiences, please visit:

7. Last month there was a great deal of concern and worry when people discovered Rick Archer intended to teach Beg Swing on Sundays. Lo and behold, no one got hurt and several people even said they liked the class. Imagine that. Now he follows up his effort with INTERMEDIATE SWING on Sundays at 7 pm. At the same time in another room, Maureen Brunetti will teach ADVANCED SWING.

8. On Mondays in September, Maureen Brunetti brings back one of the favorite Swing classes in studio history with SWING CHARLESTON I. This class will start a two-month program in the intricate jobs of Swing Charleston.

The fascinating Charleston kick patterns are a major part of the Lindy Hop. However they can just as easily be used to a Swing system as well. This courses covers Side by Side Charleston patterns and shows you how to get in and out of them using Swing 6-beat timing.

Swing Charleston Classic patterns include Bus Driver, Kick and Rock, Side by Side Charleston, and Crossed-Hand Charleston as well as others. Many people are not aware that the Lindy originated out of the Charleston. In particular, the "Side by Side" and "Crossed-Hands" patterns were pretty much the first Lindy patterns ever used when Lindy was making its breakout from the Charleston in the 1920s.

Please note this is an Advanced class, so if you are a beginner, steer clear. Thanks!!

9. As we reported last month, Bryan and Lisa's MARTIAN WHIP has moved to Mondays. This turned out to be a very popular move as 40 people signed up in August. Not only did they love the class, Monday Night Whip Practice became a serious rocking event. If you are an advanced Whip and West Coast Swing dancer, this is the place to be on Mondays!

10. Tuesday Salsa is phenomenal. Each Tuesday, there is a Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Salsa class that average 80 to 100 people in each class. In particular, Steve & Danielle conduct their elite Advanced Salsa class each Tuesday. The Tuesday Salsa Practice Night hosted by Linda Cook is smokin'.

11. Sharon Crawford-Shaw begins her brand new three-month Western Cha Cha class on Wednesdays at 7 pm. This class is one of our featured classes this month, so read more about it shortly below.

12. Ben teaches Ghost Town one more time on Wednesdays in December. This time it is Ghost Town 12, our most difficult Ghost Town. Hey, by the time you get to making up patterns for the twelfth level, all the easy stuff is gone. It features many tricky patterns such as Romance Novel, Sizzling Samba, Roll Out the Red Carpet, and Sassy Chassez. My favorite is the Sizzling Samba, which features the infamous Casanova Cowboy move. This move makes you happy to be a male western swing dancer…

13. Martian Technique resurfaces on Thursdays in September. Martian Technique is an advanced program for the graduates of our Basic Beginner thru Lunar program. It moves faster than Lunar Whip, but nowhere near as fast as Martian Whip. It is a place where the classes are small and we can concentrate on polishing your skills while adding new material. This month Rick teaches his beloved ROCK AND GO/ALTERNATING TRIPLES class on Thursdays!

14. Rick and Cher will teach ADVANCED WESTERN WALTZ on Friday. Western Waltz is considered the "Romantic" Western dance. The stakes being what they are, no sensible man should ignore this important dance! The moves are quite graceful and the music is very pretty.

15. Willie Bushnell teaches Zydeco starting on Saturday at 430. Zydeco dance music originated in the state of Louisiana. Similar to Cajun music, Zydeco is more heavily influenced by blues and music from the West Indies. Zydeco is fun, sexy, and pretty easy to learn! This is a great Saturday class that will have you laughing all night long!

16. At the request of many Salsa students, Bjorn and Rebeca Bangstein moved their Saturday Salsa Explosion on Saturdays to 2:00 pm last month. This turned out to be a great move. Not only did they have 30 students in their class, they all had plenty of room to dance! This move allowed students to take both the Explosion class and the 4:30 Advanced Salsa class back to back.

The Explosion class debuted last month to huge applause. This is an Advanced Salsa class that concentrates on Salsa Styling. In addition to the styling, there are advanced Salsa patterns as well. In the words of several July students, this class moves VERY FAST.

Bjorn and Rebecca are both highly polished Salsa performers. They have been in competitions and exhibitions for several years now and plan to bring the secrets of performing to their class.

In Rebecca's own words, "I will teach women (and men) movement of the arms, shoulders and hips. Women find it challenging to style while dancing with a partner and intimidated when left alone to shine."

One note: This class is only open to people who have completed an Advanced Salsa class previously. It is not fair to have Beginning and Intermediate Salsa dancers come in and slow this class down. This class is aimed at students who intend to compete and perform in Salsa Dance.


On Sunday at 7 pm, September 3, Dakota Wilhelm begins his four-month Tango program. At this time a year ago, Dakota had just started at the studio and was an unknown. One year later he has established himself as one of our best instructors.

What is amazing about Dakota is that he is good at everything - West Coast, East Coast, Western, Salsa, and of course Ballroom. Starting in January, Dakota will oversee the SSQQ "Accelerated Ballroom" course starting in January.

If you didn't read about the "Accelerated" course in last month's issue, here is the link:

However January is not exactly right around the corner. In the meantime, Dakota will enjoy teaching one of his favorite dances, the passionate Tango!

Starting in September, Dakota will start with Beginning Tango, then promote his class one level all the way through December. By Christmas time, you will be one of the best Tango dancers on the planet!

Tango is a timeless symbol for the dark side of romance. The music is haunting and mysterious and the movement of the dance very dramatic. With songs like "Jalousie" (Jealousy) and "Ecstasie" (Ecstasy), Tango takes its place in legend as the dance of pride, anger, and most of all, passion. It is said that if Count Dracula were to choose a dance, there is no doubt it would be Tango.

Stylish and very dramatic, Tango combines sleek, hip-locked, gliding steps with abrupt stops into fans, flicks, flares, dips, and lunges. The eerie music, sultry motion, and the haunting sense of dark moods barely under control make Tango a truly fascinating dance!


Sharon Crawford Shaw is famous for teaching the most popular Advanced Western classes in all of Houston. Now that she and her friend John Jones have completed their amazing 5-month Western Waltz class, in September they turn their attention to Western Cha Cha.

Western Cha Cha is the traditional Cha Cha used to slow, graceful Polka-speed music. Many of the songs Western Cha Cha works best to can be described as romantic or sultry, often with a Latin beat in the background.

The most famous Western Cha Cha is "Neon Moon" by Brooks and Dunn. "Shagging" by Alabama and "Tequila Sunrise" by the Eagles are two more examples. The Western Cha Cha is a clever dance that works well as an alternative dance to the Polka.

Quite popular in Western clubs in other parts of the country, Western Cha Cha is also a fixture at Western Dance Competitions. The patterns vary from the simple to the complex and use double turns when the mood strikes. Best of all, the Cha Cha has an attractive hip motion that makes Wrangler Jeans do for Western dancing whatever it is that Gap Khakis do for Swing dancing.

Cha Cha is flirtatious, sexy, easy to learn, and lots of fun!


Saturday, September 16th
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm
Cover charge $7

$14 Person, $22 Couple

PUTTIN' ON THE RITZ (Foxtrot/Waltz) - Jack
SLOW DANCING - Marla (cpls only)


Party at a Glance:
Music: Swing and Ballroom in Room 1
Dress Kool or go sit on the stool


Saturday, September 23rd
9:15 pm - 11:30 pm
Cover charge $7

$14 Person, $22 Couple



Party at a Glance:

Dress: Dress Hoedown or Expect a Showdown


(Editor's Note: Now this story upset me greatly.  As a Scorpio, Pluto is said to be my ruling planet.  I have felt empty and rudderless all day.  In fact, I am devastated. I think Pluto's cruel fate is the reason.)


Aug. 25, 2006, 8:07AM
Science gives Pluto the cold shoulder
Textbooks will have to be rewritten as sentiment fails to save the planet

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

Astronomers debating Pluto's future as a planet Thursday were forced to choose between science and culture.

More than 75 years after its discovery by Clyde Tombaugh, Pluto has been booted from the fraternity of planets in defiance of grade-school textbooks.

It's not a decision astronomers wanted to make, but one many felt increasingly forced to make. In recent years they have found a dizzying array of planet-like objects in the outer solar system including one, nicknamed Xena, that's bigger than the former ninth planet.

The question was whether Xena and a host of other solar system objects should become planets. If not, however, Pluto must be disqualified, too.

"It would be disastrous for astronomy if we come away from the general assembly with nothing," said Michael Rowan-Robinson, president of the United Kingdom's Royal Astronomical Society, shortly before nearly 400 astronomers voted to reclassify Pluto Thursday.

"We would be regarded as idiots."

The new definition of a planet is far different from the original proposal, made at the beginning of the International Astronomical Union meeting last week.

The proposed definition, in a nod to Pluto's cultural standing, accommodated the tiny planet even though it is smaller than the Earth's moon.

Unfortunately for schoolchildren who might be asked to memorize the names of all the planets, it also would have made the asteroid Ceres, Pluto's moon Charon and the newly discovered Xena into planets. In addition, at least another dozen objects in the solar system might have met the criteria for a planet.

But astronomers meeting in Prague became increasingly uncomfortable with the proposed definition, both because it was unscientific and because it cluttered the solar system.

"I think they peeked inside the Pandora's box and decided that things could very quickly get really, really complicated," said Pat Reiff, a professor of physics and astronomy at Rice University and director of the Rice Space Institute.

The final definition, adopted by a large majority of astronomers at the meeting, says a planet must: orbit the Sun, have sufficient mass to assume a nearly round shape, and have cleared the neighborhood around its orbit.

Pluto did not meet the last hurdle. But it then had one final chance.

A second resolution would have divided planets into "classical planets" and "dwarf planets," with Pluto, Xena, Ceres and others falling into the second category. Astronomers, by a margin of about 3-1, defeated that measure.

Xena's discoverers, California Institute of Technology planetary scientist Mike Brown and his colleagues, were mildly disappointed.

"It's been a fun year having that whole 10th planet thing hanging around, but I can admit that deep down inside, it never felt right," Brown said. "I'm feeling a little relieved that they've done the right thing. I'm a little sad that we've lost the 10th planet, but I'm glad they got the science right."

Brown said he thinks the cultural world will eventually accept the scientific decision.

"If scientists can stick to their guns, I think the culture will eventually come around," Brown said. "But yeah, underdogs and warrior princesses are unhappy today."

Textbook publishers have been anticipating the decision for some time.

"Our science editors have been watching this closely for weeks," said David Hakensen, a spokesman for Pearson Education, which publishes elementary and secondary education textbooks under Prentice Hall and other brands.

Jodi Goldman, a spokeswoman for Houghton Mifflin, said her company would begin to act on the decision almost immediately, by changing its online course material.

But the publishers said they won't be able to change already delivered books in time for the current school year.

According to DeEtta Culbertson, a spokeswoman for the Texas Education Agency, science textbooks were adopted for the state's public schools in 2001, and new books won't be considered until 2008. Those selected won't reach classrooms until 2011.

Until that time, she said, the state's science teachers will receive updates referring them to new materials when they reach relevant parts of the existing textbooks.

Lisa Bunse, an assistant press secretary at the Houston Independent School District, said teachers may have to be a little creative until the new textbooks arrive.

"I guess we'll just have to black out Pluto," she quipped.

(Editor's Note: How many of you will join me in protesting this terrible decision! 

Join the SSQQ Save Pluto Club today!)

Story submitted by Steve Casko

(Brit Hume reported this on Fox News and Steve verified it at

Do you remember New Orleans 'Katrina' mayor Ray Nagin? You know, the one that tried to teach 1,200 buses to swim while his citizen's drowned? Once again, he has demonstrated his ability to deal with hard realities.

According to The New Orleans Times Picayune there were 50,000 vehicles ruined in Katrina and abandoned by their owners.

The largest auto crusher east of the Rockies, K&L Auto Crushers of Tyler, Texas offered to pay the City of New Orleans $100.00 per vehicle, 'as is, where is', an estimated $5 million net to the city. They agreed to bring in 5 to 10 portable crushers, work 6 days per week and complete the job in 15 weeks.

Of course, Mayor Nagin knew better how to do the job and refused the offer saying the city would do the job themselves. It seems that now it will cost the City $23 million to complete the job. The vehicles are still there today instead of being cleaned out 5 months ago.

Now, lets see if I have this correct. By doing it J&L's way the City of New Orleans would net $5 million. Doing it mayor Nagin's way costs the city $23 million for a net cost to the City of New Orleans of $28,000,000.

This is the same mayor that wants The United States taxpayers to give $50 billion to New Orleans and let him rebuild a "Chocolate City" his way without any oversight or any control.


August saw two new weddings.

Congratulations to Kathy Goode and Curtis Heller!

Congratulations to John Otts and Cynthia Hall! John and Cynthia will be honeymooning with us on the Rhapsody Cruise. We promise to tease them every chance we get. Surely they have to join for dinner, right?

(details to be added when I get pictures... hint hint)


1. Mara Rivas (2 months in a row!)
2. Randy Piniola (6 months in a row!)
3. Ritesh Laud (2 years in a row!)
4. Susan Arevalo (31 months in a row!)
5. Anita Leung (14 months in a row!)
6. Ann Faget (32 months in a row!)

These are the same six people who solved last month's puzzle. Are these six people the only logical people out of a mailing list of 12,000 people?  

Surely there are others who can solve a logic puzzle.   Maybe?

By the way, the Pizza Eaters puzzle was a tough one. These six people are very smart, I assure you.


Six married couples (one of whom was named Andrews) were spending the weekend together at the Lake Osceola Nudist Colony in Florida. During a pleasant dip in the hot tub, Ted and Alice, both firm believers in astrology, started up a pleasant conversation about how the planets affect our lives.

As other people in their group entered the hot tub, the newcomers quickly joined the conversation. Soon they were all amazed to discover that the 12 members of their group were each born under DIFFERENT signs of the Zodiac. Not one person out of twelve shared the same zodiac sign! As a further coincidence, they realized the three "spring signs" were married to the three "winter signs", as were the "summer signs" to the "autumn signs" - a rare coincidence indeed!

Using the astrological chart to help you with the clues, can you determine who is married to whom, their last names, and the astrological sign of each individual?


(Editor's Note: have you ever been under so much pressure that you accidentally blurted out the first thing that came into your mind?  This story is too funny except for one certain person.)

Aug. 24, 2006, 10:13PM
Associated Press

CHICAGO - Cook County prosecutors say a 29-year-old man traveling with his mother desperately didn't want her to know he'd packed a sexual aid for their trip to Turkey.

So he told security it was a bomb, officials said.

Madin Azad Amin, 29, of Skokie, was stopped Aug. 16 at O'Hare International Airport after guards found an object in his baggage that resembled a grenade, prosecutors said.

When officers asked him to identify it, Amin said it was a bomb, said Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Lorraine Scaduto. He later told officials he'd lied about the item because his mother was nearby, Scaduto said.

He's been charged with felony disorderly conduct, said Andrew Conklin, a spokesman with the Cook County state's attorney's office.

Amin is due back in court Sept. 13. He told the Chicago Sun-Times that security officials did not give him a chance to explain the misunderstanding and that he would never use the word "bomb" while going through a security checkpoint.


(Editor's Note: Okay, the last story was funny, but this one isn't.)

Aug. 25, 2006, 12:24AM
Screeners disciplined over leaving post empty
TSA says man passing by Hobby checkpoint minor problem; experts call it major lapse

Copyright 2006 Houston Chronicle

An incident in which a New York man was arrested after walking through an empty Hobby Airport security post has led to disciplinary action against the screeners and warnings from security experts, who call it a serious lapse.

Officials with the federal Transportation Security Administration insist, however, that the July 31 episode was a minor problem in a normally efficient operation. It was the second time in a five-week period in which screeners' handling of passengers at that checkpoint came under question.

"I think somebody should go and check very deep into the security system and see what's going on in this place," said Offer Baruch, former security director for El Al Israel Airlines in Jordan and now a consultant with Infrastruct Security Inc. in Houston.

The crew of four screeners was admonished and retrained after authorities viewed a videotape showing the post was unstaffed when Darrell Raymond and his 7-year-old daughter walked through it on the way to their plane.

Raymond, a 29-year-old Brooklyn resident, and his daughter were asked to leave the plane and he was charged with criminal trespass. He spent about 10 hours in the Harris County Jail.

His daughter, Myasia, had been visiting her grandparents in Houston and he had flown here to take her home, according to Raymond and his Houston attorney, Troy Pradia.

They were concerned about missing the 11:30 p.m. AirTran Airways flight, the last one that night from Hobby, Raymond told the Houston Chronicle. He said he saw no one at the screening station when he entered Concourse C.

"I waited and looked around, then went through," he said. "Someone came out and started yelling at me and said I can't do that."

TSA officials agree that Raymond voluntarily returned to the screening area and walked through the metal detector.

"(The TSA agent) never told him to wait," Pradia said. "He asked if she wanted to search him and she said she didn't want to."

Raymond said he and his daughter then boarded their flight.

Vernon Baker, federal security director at Hobby, said the supervisor and three of the four screeners in that crew were absent from their posts. He pointed out where the remaining screener was standing, out of sight in a hallway leading to a break room.

Baker said the lone screener heard the metal detector alarm and intercepted Raymond, who returned and walked through the detector, again sounding the alarm. Raymond said that the alarm did not sound.  (editor's note: I believe Raymond)

Baker said Raymond and Myasia then boarded their flight, even though the screener had asked him to wait until she could determine what had set off the alarm.

"I think it was just a misunderstanding," Baker said. "She asked him not to proceed, and I guess he didn't understand."

Raymond said a ticket agent asked him to leave the aircraft and he was handcuffed in front of his distraught daughter. In addition to a day's work he lost, he said, the incident has cost him a $100 bondsman's fee, $1,500 in legal fees and a $230 airline ticket he had purchased for his now-canceled court date.

"If I was a bad guy, I would not have stopped to look around and (would have) gone straight on the plane," he said. "And no one would have even noticed."

Baker said he viewed the videotape from surveillance cameras and determined that the screeners were to blame because they were not at their posts. He contacted Assistant District Attorney Andrew Leuchtmann, who dropped the charge.

He added, however, that it would be unfair to consider the oversight a sign of serious security problems. "We have a well-run operation," he said.

But Baruch and two other airport security experts said the incident was a security lapse that indicates inadequate training and supervision.

"It's a dangerous and serious error and, to me, it's an indication of very sloppy management," said Charles Slepian, chief executive officer of Foreseeable Risk Analysis Center in Tigard, Ore.

Issy Boim, who helped design El Al's security system and was an adviser to the White House Commission on Aviation and Security during the Clinton administration, said a screener should be visible at all times. He said the lapse reflects what he considers TSA management's failure nationwide to train its agents adequately.

The incident occurred five weeks after screeners at the same station came under scrutiny for allowing a Jordanian immigrant with suspected bomb parts to enter the boarding area.

Security experts also criticized the screeners for failing to call the FBI to question the man, who then flew to Atlanta before being interviewed. FBI agents finally cleared the man of any links to terrorism.

(Editor's Note: The people who should have spent 10 hours in jail were the morons who left their post unattended.)


Gary Richardson sent in some of the most beautiful pictures of China I have ever seen.


(Story submitted by Jacqueline Chang)

From the Wall Street Journal
Thursday, August 3, 2006

Pursuit of Ballroom Glory:
Banker Now Regards $15.4 Million Lessons As a Serious Misstep/  Ms. Wong Sues Dance Coach Who Called Her 'a Cow'

August 3, 2006; Page A1

HONG KONG -- As the top Asia private banker for HSBC Holdings PLC, Mimi Monica Wong knows how to make wealth last. But these days, she is better known for the millions she lost perfecting her rumba.

Two years ago, Ms. Wong agreed to pay $15.4 million for eight years of unlimited Latin-dance instruction. About half of that sum she paid up front, in cash. The 61-year-old widow recently said she was "looking for the last bit of glory in life."

But the arrangement soured even before it took effect.

Now Ms. Wong is suing her dance instructors in a Hong Kong court seeking the return of her $8 million pre-payment. The instructors, 15-time world Latin dance champion Gaynor Fairweather, of the U.K., and her Italian husband Mirko Saccani, are countersuing for the $7.4 million outstanding under the agreement.

Hong Kong has no shortage of big spenders. Home to some of Asia's great fortunes, the city of about seven million boasts the most Rolls-Royces per capita in the world. Yet even here, the equivalent of $5,000 a day for eight years is a lot to pay for dance lessons.

"It's just ridiculous," says Keith McNab, an Argentine tango instructor in Hong Kong who charges about $70 an hour. "No one could actually take enough lessons to make it worth it."

In a letter to a local newspaper, a Hong Kong civil servant said such sums could inspire a career change. "Ladies, I am now available to give dancing lessons," wrote John Shanahan, a senior officer at the city's anticorruption watchdog. "Payments are accepted in advance. Pole dancing costs extra."

But for many women in high-society Hong Kong, dancing is serious business. At glitzy charity balls, Chinese tycoons sometimes turn into wallflowers as their wives dip and twirl in the arms of a paid partner -- often a younger Western man. Among this crowd, it's not uncommon to fork over $500 for an afternoon social event called a "tea dance."

Hong Kong has "some of the craziest prices in the world," says Walter Wat, president of the Hong Kong Ballroom Dancing Council.

The sums approach the stratosphere when a dancer hits the international "pro-am" circuit, where aspiring amateur dancers, mostly female, take part in competitions with professional partners. Daily lessons are necessary to master the five dances that make up competitive Latin ballroom -- cha-cha, rumba, samba, jive and paso doble. There are also travel expenses, entry fees and the cost of costumes for two.

It was this kind of dancing that grabbed Ms. Wong. She rose to the top, just as she had in private banking, and she loved it. "It's like, you know, winning Wimbledon," she said in a recorded conversation with a friend that was referred to in court. Ms. Wong, Ms. Fairweather and Mr. Saccani all declined to comment for this article.

Off the dance floor, Ms. Wong has an impressive rιsumι. A graduate of Columbia University, she worked her way up HSBC, the world's biggest bank by assets, to become head of its private banking business in Asia. The daughter of a Hong Kong shipping magnate, Ms. Wong is known for her composure, elegance and perfectionism at any cost.

In 2000, Ms. Wong began taking lessons from Ms. Fairweather, who ruled the Latin dance world for 15 years with her then-partner Donnie Burns. The pair is credited with injecting a new flair to the form, and for slowing down the samba to allow for more swagger, according to Hong Kong dance teachers. For their service to dance, each was awarded an Order of the British Empire, a lesser honor than knighthood.

Under Ms. Fairweather's tutelage, Ms. Wong increasingly devoted herself to dancing. Often she would dash away from work at lunch for two hours of lessons, only to put in two more at the end of the day, according to statements made in court. Ms. Fairweather would labor over her student's dress designs, drawing floral patterns and hiring seamstresses to affix hundreds of Swarovski crystal beads, she testified in court. "To me, she was everything," the 49-year-old Ms. Fairweather told the court.

After two years of instruction with just Ms. Fairweather, Mr. Saccani became part of the package. According to court statements, Mr. Saccani instigated longer-term contracts with Ms. Wong for greater and greater sums, paid well in advance. After he began instructing Ms. Wong, according to court testimony, he bought a Ferrari.

In 2002, Ms. Wong paid $135,000 for a fixed number of lessons and competitions. Shortly afterward, she shelled out $1.3 million for a two-year package of unlimited lessons until 2004.

The work paid off. With Mr. Saccani as her partner at the 2003 Emerald Ball Dancesport Championships in Los Angeles, Ms. Wong won the title of "Top Gold Lady."

On top of what she had spent already, Ms. Wong then agreed to pay $15.4 million over eight years for exclusive access to Ms. Fairweather's and Mr. Saccani's services.

Ms. Wong swallowed the high prices because "she was desperate to continue and could not bear to throw away all her hard work," according to her closing statement to the court.

What upended the multimillion-dollar dance partnership was an incident on a Wednesday afternoon in August of 2004. At the Li Hua restaurant, a favorite afternoon dance venue, Ms. Wong and a group of other women were taking part in a mock competition.

That day, the banker was heavier in her step than usual, according to statements in court. In front of fellow dancers, Mr. Saccani shouted at her to "move your arse," and called Ms. Wong a "lazy cow," according to court documents.

Other dance teachers testified his verbal abuse contained threats of physical violence. Instructor Philip Redmond told the court he heard Mr. Saccani say, "If you do it again, Monica, I'll smash your head against the wall." Mr. Saccani denies having said anything beyond some "motivational" language, though he admits to shouting expletives at her.

Two days later, she cut short another practice session. That night, in the taped conversation submitted to the court, she told a friend that the money involved was "stupid," "crazy" and "completely out of hand." The two sides fell out further over the following days and Ms. Wong quickly won a court order to freeze the bank accounts of her instructors.

Ms. Fairweather and Mr. Saccani say they remain ready to fulfill the terms of the contract. "It's not fair to have such love and work put into a person and one day she's not there," Ms. Fairweather told the court.

The publicity around Ms. Wong's case hasn't been good for a private banker, a job that prizes discretion, other bankers say. However, HSBC stands behind its banker, and after a brief leave of absence to attend the two-week hearing, she is back at work helping Asia's wealthy plan their financial future. A judgment in the court case is expected later this summer.

At night, there is still the cha-cha. Ms. Wong has a new instructor, whom she is paying, according to statements in court, $21,000 a month.

(Editor's Note: I'm moving to Hong Kong today!)

Submitted by Jerry Boldra and Sharon Crawford Shaw

tarantism (TAR-uhn-tiz-uhm) noun

An uncontrollable urge to dance.

(After Taranto, a town in southern Italy where this phenomenon was experienced during the 15-17th centuries. It's not clear whether tarantism was the symptom of a spider's bite or its cure, or it may have been just a pretext to dodge a prohibition against dancing. The names of the dance tarantella and the spider tarantula are both derived from the same place.)

"The director is in a wild delirium, spinning in circles as though stricken with tarantism, his whirring camera held at arm's length, panning, tilting, arcing and oscillating and making other moves that have no name."

Mimi Monica Wong, overwhelmed by a fit of tarantism, signed a dance contract in the amount of 15 million dollars."


(At least none that were written)


Rue Lynn Allen submitted the September Joke Picture. It is the story of a 600 pound bear cowering in a tree as it tries to escape the fury of a 15 pound cat… who has no claws. True story.



I am taking another month off in the Jokes Department. But when I get around to it, I've got lots of great new jokes so stay tuned.

In the meantime, the Hall of Fame Jokes for September are ready (20 clean side, 17 blue side)!


And that's a wrap for September.

Thanks for reading this month's issue of the SSQQ Newsletter!

Rick Archer  (email)


Please direct questions, comments, and contributions to:
Rick Archer at

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